Island of the Blue Dolphins

by: Scott O'Dell

Chapters 8–9

Feeling secure with her new weapons, Karana settles into a daily routine. She waits for the ship, but summer passes, then winter, and it does not come.

Analysis

In this section, Karana finds herself truly alone for the first time. Karana and Ramo enjoyed each other's company, and Ramo even said that he preferred to be on the island of the blue dolphins with his sister when there are no other people around. Karana starts to feel the pangs of loneliness when she is on the shore waiting for Ramo. She begins to wonder whether the white men's ship will ever come and begins to experience fear for the first time since she was left on the island with Ramo. Her fear becomes panic when Ramo does not return, and to anger when she finds him dead. Karana's discomfort grows when she realizes just how alone she is. She is living in the village that was once full of her friends and family, and so the island seems all the emptier. The huts mark the places of those who are gone. Karana does not burn them because she is trying to forget her tribe, but because she does not want to be reminded that they are not there with her. Even when Karana moves away from the village and starts to make herself more comfortable, the return of the white men's ship dominates her thoughts.

Though Karana is alone, she still acts like a member of her tribe, and the traditions of her people still affect her. Even though she needs weapons to defend herself from the wild dogs, she is reluctant to make them, because the laws of her tribe forbid it. Karana's people have a very strict division of labor between the sexes. Powerful superstitions keep this tradition in place, such powerful superstitions that it takes two days before Karana's necessity overcomes her fear. Such traditions show how extraordinary it is, even for someone who has lived on Ghalas-at all her life, to survive alone on the island, since the laws of Karana's tribe necessitate interdependence (or at the very dependence of women upon men). These laws also serve to highlight Karana's aloneness (and loneliness), since it demonstrates the communal nature of her society. That Karana is able to overcome her fear of going against tradition shows her personal strength, and marks the beginning of her journey towards establishing her own code of conduct.


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